July 24, 2021

Football: Donetsk-Brazil, the winning connection


The Ukrainian club has an incredible recruiting history in the land of “Football Samba”. And the love story continues.


Robin Carrel, Gelsenkirchen

Fernandinho, now at Manchester City, is one of the bridgeheads of the Donbass Brazilians.


Eleven years ago, under the leadership of the tasty Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar Donetsk won the last UEFA Cup by name against Werder Bremen (2-1), after extra time. The goals were scored by Luiz Adriano in the 25th and Jadson in the 97th. On the lawn of Istanbul, that evening, they were helped in the offensive animation by Fernandinho, Willian and Ilsinho. Half of the field players of the winner of the “C3” were therefore Brazilian.

Fernandinho then became the Manchester City “captain” of Pep Guardiola, Willian has just spent six years at Chelsea and will sign for three seasons at Arsenal, Luiz Adriano stealthily passed through AC Milan, while the other two returned to stack home goals. This success with “Auriverde” players has therefore been the happiness of the Donbass club for ages and it is not about to stop. In all, 31 Brazilian players have played 3,410 times for Shakhtar, for a total of 729 goals. It gives you a connection.

Brandao at the head of the bridge

During this interminable season, which saw Shakhtar face FC Basel on Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. in Gelsenkirchen (4-1), the Ukrainian club successfully bet on the same simple recipe, based on internal Ukrainian cuisine. Brazilian. They are, in fact, the trifle of 12 players from this South American country to have donned the orange jersey of the “Miners” during the 2019/2020 financial year, against sixteen Ukrainians, an Argentinian, an Israeli, a Georgian and … that’s it. Add to it the remarkable passages of Brandao, Elano, Bernard, Alex Teixeira, Fred or Matuzalem and there is ample reason to validate the nickname of “Brazilian colony” today accepted.

It will undoubtedly make the fans of the Olympique de Marseille who pass by here laugh, but the love story started a little by chance in 2002 with this a little frustrated center forward, a striker in the style that the one can qualify as “rough”. It was not then a real desire to bet on green and yellow. The revolution will come from Mircea Lucescu, perfect Portuguese speaker, just two years later. The Romanian legend was placed there by President Rinat Akhmetov to compete with Dynamo Kiev and he will do even better than that, with a simple credo: Ukrainians behind and Brazilians in front.

The arrivals that follow will be successes. The Ukrainians won the last UEFA Cup – which has since become the Europa League – and the virtuous circle is set in motion. The stars came at a price of gold, but were sold for a price of platinum. Fred left for Manchester United for a check for 59 million euros, Alex Teixeira signed in Jiangsu in China for 50 million, Fernandinho joined Manchester City for 40 million, Willian flew to Chelsea for 35.5 million and Douglas Costa cost Bayern Munich 30 million.

The city of Kiev reassures

Those who stayed? They allow newbies to acclimatize as quickly as possible, in a region where it is on average -4 ° in winter. This recipe allows the great hopes of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Recife or Sao Paulo to know that this place is an ideal gateway to Europe and they are therefore much less reluctant to put their bags there. The transplant often takes, to such an extent that current elements like Marlos or Junior Moraes have been naturalized Ukrainian. Fernandinho, captain at City, spoke Ukrainian very well before leaving for England and also regularly wore the armband.

In recent years, the war in Donbass has certainly frightened some of them. Douglas Costa and Alex Teixeira had even refused to join their club during this troubled period. Things have calmed down a bit since, the team playing “at home” in Kharkov, training in Kiev – where they play “C1” – and some of the surest prospects come from across the Atlantic have again chosen Shakhtar to discover European football.

Basel thus faced great promises on Tuesday like the left side Dodô (21 years old), the right winger Tetê (20 years old) and the central midfielder Marcos Antônio (20 years old). In Cabral, the Brazilian striker of FCB, to show that he too can worthily represent the country of samba football.